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Being informed

This section is designed to help you to understand and engage with public mental health in more depth.

Determinants of mental health

Poor mental health is associated with rapid social change, stressful work conditions, gender discrimination, social exclusion, unhealthy lifestyle, physical ill-health and human rights violations. There are growing concerns that mental health issues are becoming an increasing burden in society. The reasons for this are complex but pressures in life, people’s expectations and changes to the way social networks are defined all contribute. 

Mental health promotion and protection

We can promote wellbeing as a societal health benefit when we create an environment which supports the mental health of individuals and respects and protects the civil, political, socio-economic and cultural rights of all. To achieve this goal, mental health awareness and support needs to be embedded across systems, not just within health care but also as a part of education, employment, justice, transport, environment, housing, and welfare sectors and as part of the public and private sectors.

Mental health care and treatment

It is essential not only to protect and promote the mental wellbeing, but also address the needs of persons with diagnosed mental health issues.

It is important that all nursing staff have an understanding and basic knowledge about the escalating burden of mental disorders. It is increasingly important to increase overall awareness of key mental health problems: depression and anxiety; psychosis and suicide.  

To do thi, all nurses need to have an awareness of:


Brown, M and Floyd, D. (2011) Better mental health in a bigger society? This report explores the ways that communities, the NHS and local authorities can become enablers for people and communities to take forward their own visions of mental health and wellbeing in a financially restricted environment.

Campion J (2019) Public mental health: Evidence, practice and commissioning. Royal Society for Public Health. This report gives a current overview of this topic from a public health perspective.

Coggins et al (2007) Mental Well-being Impact Assessment: A Toolkit ‘A Living and Working Document’. This toolkit offers a way to assess the impact of organisations and policies on the mental health of the public.

Knifton, L and Quinn, N (eds). Public mental health: global perspectives. Maidenhead: Open University Press; 2013. This book gives a global perspective on public mental health.